I didn’t think that I would be motherless this early. We planned to move her up to Baltimore so that she could enjoy the rest of her retired life with no responsibilities other than herself but as every good story plot shows, life doesn’t work out as we plan. She did move up to Baltimore and lived with me for the last six months but it wasn’t ideal. Sickness changes relationships. Expectations go unstated. Drugs are horrible. It was an uphill battle. In the end, I wouldn’t have had her care put in anyone else’s hands. I’ve always known that as an only child, the responsibility would fall on me. I was grossly underprepared. I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. She was 64.
I planned for us to take long walks together. I wanted her to get to travel more; go and reconnect with old college friends and see more of the country. The trip I took us on two years ago to Jamaica was only the tip of the iceberg in my mind. I wanted to show my mother the world since she sacrificed so much to allow me to see it for myself. Thank God for that time we spent, before the doctors, the steroids, the mood swings, the frailty; the change in demeanor. I am just getting to a point where I can remember her smiling, vibrant, and happy, before the turn.
Before she died, I was angry. There were so many “if onlies”. In the end they don’t matter. The last six months don’t really matter either, not enough to outweigh the 39 years we spent together prior to them.
I’ve lost other loved ones before and I have always been a realist in the face of death. It’s a part of the deal. We live; we die. What matters most is how we spend the time we have. Life will go on once we’re gone. I don’t pretend to know what comes next for us. Maybe our energy is recycled. Maybe there is a God figure that greets us in some beautiful afterlife. Maybe we become trees. Even knowing this and fully accepting it, I wasn’t prepared for what it would feel like to lose my mother…the mother who raised me alone on her own terms every step of the way.
It’s been three months now. I’m doing okay for the most part. The house that I bought for us feels a little less strange without her these days. Initially there was this overwhelming feeling of being untethered. Like a dinghy adrift at sea. A feeling of being both starkly alone in the world, yet full of possibility at the same time-both sad and energizing. I lost my sweet friend, my biggest fan, and my cheerleader. It is a sobering very grown up state. I still half expect to look down and see her name pop up on my phone when it vibrates and I still playfully roll my eyes at the thought of my mom calling to check up on me.
It’s been a stressful year. I bought a house, moved, consolidated my mother’s home with mine, took care of her, and then helped her transition from her earthly being. I don’t have much room to care about little things anymore. Maybe that will change in time.
My friends and family have been amazing. Without the love and support of everyone, I am sure I would have buckled under the immense weight of it all. My cousin is an hour away in DC. She lost her mother two weeks after me. We were both only daughters and very close to our mothers. It’s a sucky blessing that we get to go to grief counseling and walk this journey together. I am taking a solid year to be extremely kind to myself…say no to a few requests here and there…take a few extra naps…longer walks with the dog…a few extra shopping trips. The art desire and urge to create is finally starting to bubble back up. I haven’t felt like drawing much of anything for a while now. My head and heart have just been too full. I also fell and broke my shoulder back in June. Maybe it was the universe’s way of making me rest. Maybe it was just dumb luck…
This post has been on my mind since August. Not sure if I needed to share such personal thoughts with the world (all 50 of the people who visit the blog). I just needed to get it out.